Joly raises abortion, sexual violence in closing UN speech


As the United Nations General Assembly comes to a close, Foreign Affairs Minister Melanie Joly is urging countries to uphold women’s rights and abortion access while rooting out sexual violence.

In a speech today in New York, Joly said Canada’s priorities in international relations include being a champion for women’s rights around the world.

“We are seeing rising violence, the widening crackdown on rights and freedoms, the exclusion of women and girls from the negotiating table, the boardroom, the classroom,” Joly told the General Assembly Monday. 

“Sexual and reproductive health rights for women and girls are being rolled back or denied in too many countries. None of this is by accident. These are all deliberate choices.”

Joly said that Canada would always stand up for a woman’s right to choose. 

“We will fight for your full meaningful participation in all walks of life,” she said. “We will speak up for your rights and dignity. No government, no politician, no judge, no one can take that away from you.”

Joly’s comments come after months of backlash to the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision allowing states to ban abortions. Some jurisdictions are seeking to prosecute those who help women end their pregnancies.

Joly’s remarks mentioned women targeted by autocratic governments; she cited the Taliban’s efforts to prevent Afghan girls from attending school. She called out Myanmar’s military junta imprisoning female democracy activists and sexually assaulting Rohingya women.

The speech cited Iran’s crackdown on protesters seeking accountability for the death of Mahsa Amini. She died in custody after morality police arrested her for allegedly wearing a hijab improperly. Joly also noted Ukrainian women have been subjected to sexual violence by occupying Russian forces.

The speech took place just before noon and covered some of the themes raised last week in New York by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, including climate change and international development.



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